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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, December 14, 2012 - Volume 40 Issue 50
Violent crime continues to fall
Section One
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Violent crime continues to fall

FBI says murder, robbery, rape all declined in 2011

by Shaun Knittel - SGN Associate Editor

Violent crime in the United States fell for the fifth consecutive year in 2011, with murder, rape, and robbery all going down, according to FBI statistics.

Still, crime remains a serious problem in many urban areas, bureau officials said December 10.

The report, including all crimes reported to police nationwide, showed slightly more than 1.2 million violent incidents last year. Property crimes hit a nine-year low.

CNN reports that compared with 2010, the new figures show violent crime down 3.8% overall. Property crime was down 0.5%.

Among violent incidents reported to police, murders were down about 0.7%, robberies dropped 4%, aggravated assaults declined 3.9%, and forcible (i.e., not merely statutory) rapes were down 2.5%.

NOT ALL AREAS ARE SAFER
The report warns, however, that crime remains a serious problem in many urban pockets with gangs, drugs, and poverty.

There were 14,612 murders last year, an average of one every 36 minutes. That's a small decline from 14,722 in 2010, but it's a decrease of nearly 17% from a decade ago.

Most victims were male and in cases where race was known, 50% were Black and 46% were white.

Guns were used in two-thirds of the nation's murders last year, as well as in 41% of robberies and 21% of aggravated assaults, the report showed.

The FBI does not officially comment on the data, but criminologists point to factors for the continuing decline in overall violence, citing a more settled crack-cocaine market, an increase in incarcerations, an aging population, data-driven policing, and changes in technology that include a big increase in surveillance cameras.

HOW LOW CAN WE GO?
James Alan Fox, a criminology professor at Northeastern University, told CNN crime has continued to decline from a peak in the 1990s but now is decreasing at a slower rate.

'I call it the Limbo stick effect,' Fox said. 'You can only go so low. You're never going to get down to zero crime.'

The FBI crime statistics differed from a telephone crime survey released by the Justice Department early this month. That report actually showed crime increasing last year, but attributed the change to a jump in simple assaults.

Fox said many of those assaults described to interviewers were non-injury, pushing-and-shoving incidents not reported to any law enforcement agencies.

He also noted the increase that the Justice Department reported was from an all-time low in the crime rate the previous year, suggesting crime is entering a low level where officials hope it will stay for some time.

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